Cardinals continue dominance of Padres


ST. LOUIS (AP) -- At least Bud Smith didn't lose this one.

Placido Polanco had three hits, including his fourth home run in
10 games, and three RBI as the St. Louis Cardinals overcame
another shaky outing from Smith to beat the San Diego Padres 11-5
Tuesday night.

The Cardinals, who have a seven-game winning streak against the
Padres and are 23-3 against them the last three seasons, took a
one-game lead in the NL Central over second-place Cincinnati. St.
Louis will go for a series sweep Thursday behind 28-year-old rookie
Jason Simontacchi.

The 22-year-old Smith, who no-hit the Padres last September as a
rookie, is 0-5 in eight starts this year with an 7.18 ERA and is
winless since Sept. 22, 2001. Handed a 6-1 lead after two innings,
he failed to get an out in the fifth inning as the Padres closed
the gap to one run.

''You get six runs and you don't get a win, it's embarrassing,''
Smith said. ''It's frustrating. I don't know what to do.

''I'm out there knowing I need to get outs and I can't even get
five innings in.''

Polanco, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols homered on consecutive
at-bats off Kevin Jarvis (2-4) with two outs in the second for the
Cardinals. St. Louis hit a season-best four homers Monday in a 7-3
victory over the Padres with Edmonds, Pujols, Miguel Cairo and
Woody Williams connecting, and they have 10 homers in the last
three games.

When Polanco connected in the second, it gave him four homers in
37 at-bats. He hit one in his first 212.

He's not sure where the power surge is coming from.

''I have no idea,'' Polanco said. ''I'm definitely seeing the
ball better and getting better swings.''

Ron Gant had three hits and three RBI for the Padres, who are
1-6 on an 11-game trip. Gant's two-run double chased Smith in the

A five-run sixth, with Polanco and Edmonds each driving in a run
and Tino Martinez capping it off with a three-run double off Rodney
Myers, put the game away as the Cardinals took an 11-5 lead.

''Unfortunately, a lot of teams we're playing right now are
looking good against us,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. ''We
need to get our pitching in order. We're getting beat on pretty

Jarvis has made two starts since coming off the disabled list
from a strained right elbow, totaling 5 2-3 innings. He's allowed
11 runs on 12 hits in that span and could go on the DL for a third
time this year.

''I don't want to use my elbow as an excuse,'' Jarvis said.
''It's not super. I think we'll have to wait and see how the elbow
responds. It's not like I'm in a lot of pain.''

Mike Crudale (1-0) held the Padres to a sacrifice fly in the
fifth that cut the gap to 6-5 after entering with no outs and
runners on second and third. It was a save situation of sorts for
Crudale, who had seven saves at Triple-A Memphis before being
recalled on Sunday.

''That's the mentality I have,'' Crudale said. ''Every inning is
a save, in a sense, in order to get to the next inning.''

Game notes
The last time the Cardinals hit three straight homers was
April 6, 2000, when Fernando Tatis, J.D. Drew and victory at Busch
Stadium. ... Albert Pujols of the Cardinals and Ryan Klesko of the
Padres were fourth and fifth in a five-man Internet voting runoff
to determine the 30th player for the NL All-Star team. ... Mark
Kotsay had three hits and is 17-for-42 (.405) his last 10 games
with seven RBI. ... Entering the game, Jarvis had allowed only two
homers in 32 innings. ... Smith had showed signs of improvement
before this game, posting a 3.07 ERA in three starts since being
recalled from Memphis. ... The Cardinals have 35 hits the last
three games, reaching double digits each time.